Vision West Marine Highway Ferry Feasibility Study

USDA Rural Development: Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG)

The project is to evaluate the feasibility of operating a car ferry that crosses Lake Sakakawea near Twin Buttes off of old ND Hwy 8 on the South Side of the Lake and near Parshall off of ND Hwy 1804 on the North Side of the Lake. The project would include evaluating the infra-structure needs including accessibility to the Lake, parking facilities, docks, and amenities, operating costs, travel times, operating schedule and boat options.
(click to open documents)

Project Scope of Work


Elements of the Study


North Dakota Rural Grocers Initiative

Over the past few years, the rural development department of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development had been receiving an alarming amount of phone calls from rural grocery stores asking for help; loan and grant money for operating costs, equipment repairs, etc. Stores had been closing which prompted the question: Has there been a shift in the rural grocery store industry?

To address this issue, grocers and other stakeholders were invited to participate in a steering committee to generate plans, ideas and resources. These efforts resulted in a successful grant award through Rural Economic Area Partnership Investment Fund, Inc. applying, as the fiscal agent, to the Consensus Council for $10,000 for a rural Grocer’s event. A rural grocers meeting took place in Mandan in January. The Final report,next steps and presentations are available for review.

Housing List for Urea Plant Workers Being Assembled

Landlords and RV Park Operators are encouraged to provide information about their vacancies to the Hazen Chamber of Commerce & CVB.  According to Brianna Hochhalter, Executive Director, they are preparing for the influx of workers expected this spring to the Beulah and Hazen area.

Nearly 700 workers are expected to work on the Urea Plant west of Beulah. Of these, 400 will be here this spring beginning as soon as March.  Housing these workers for the next two years of construction will be a challenge for the area and presents opportunity to local landlords.

This listing of available housing for workers coming to the region is being maintained by the Hazen Chamber through collaboration with the Beulah Chamber of Commerce, Hazen Community Development, Dunn County Jobs Development Authority and the Rural Economic Area Partnership Investment Fund.  The primary website is located at Hazen Chamber and the contact email is

The landlord form for listing current vacancies can be picked up at the organizations listed earlier and is also found on their websites.  Landlords are encouraged to complete and return the form as soon as possible as workers will be here before we know it!

We Need Local Help Sharing the Information

You may share this press release and Landlord form with appropriate persons in your county or area and with local newspapers, radio, TV stations, local cable channels and other media resources.

We would appreciate postings to places the general public would see it including Facebook pages.  The landlord form for vacancy listings could also be placed in public areas or businesses.

Press Release

Landlord Form

A defined radius for the housing list has not been established.  The housing form requires information on distance from Beulah and each landlord or worker can decide for themselves on this factor.

Summit on Local Economies-SOLE

The Summit on Local Economies – SOLE was held in Medora on April 14 and 15.

As part of the conference, FARRMS commissioned several reports on the Farm and Food Economy in 14 North Dakota counties; a light processing feasibility study; a working model menu for infrastructure to support farming and local economies and Next Steps for ND REAP ZONES.

This work was paid for by a Rural Business Opportunity Grant from USDA. Many thanks to everyone who had a part in creating this valuable information.


Click on the title for a pdf download of the report. Any information used from these reports must be credited to FARRMS and the author(s) of the report.

Next Steps for North Dakota REAP Zones

CONAC Farm & Food Economy Report

SW REAP Farm & Food Economy Report

Value Chain Development Options

Business Development Model Menu

REAP Strategic Planning

USDA Rural Development 2015 RDBG $24,222

The Objective

To build individual leadership and organizational capacity in the SW REAP Zone, CONAC REAP Zones and the REAP Investment Board through three six hour strategic planning sessions the winter of 2016 with follow-up.

Outline: Scope of Work October 2015 – April 2016

a. Pre work includes review of past planning documents and communication with organization leaders. Participants will be asked to complete the Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory.

b. Incorporate validation of past planning efforts with a primary focus on the future. Plans for the three groups will be independent of each other.

c. Planning meetings with data updates for zone counties, training on Community Capitals and review of Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory.

d. Appreciative Inquiry processes and relevant traditional planning.

e. Plans would be multi-jurisdictional economic development plans in keeping with the new USDA Regional Development Priority (RDP) policy making it easier for rural communities to access resources to invest in long-term community development efforts.

f. Post planning will include 1 month and 6 month conversations and 1 year face to face review with electronic plan updates.

Vision West ND

The ND Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties partnered with the Southwest REAP Zone and the REAP Investment Fund on the winning submission for the HUD Planning Grant ($1.5 Million) which was readily matched with funds from the North Dakota Energy Infrastructure and Impact Fund ($300,000). Additionally, locally matched in-kind dollars ($600,000) were dedicated towards the project. The combined federal, state, and local dollars will be used to create a grass-roots effort to address the issues and create a road map for the future.  Funding through HUD ended January 2015 and is now funded by North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties. A six-initiative approach to address emerging growth challenges was developed by the Region.

  1. Economic Development/Diversification Strategic Plan
  2. Infrastructure Needs Planning
  3. Planning and Zoning Recommendations
  4. Individual Project Schematics
  5. Lessons Learned Webinars
  6. Regional Strategic Plan


Project Summary Strategic Plans The most intensive deliverable for this project relates to the work by Vision West ND to conduct 23 local economic development strategic planning process throughout the region. The plans contain economic strategies and quality of life initiatives.

Planning & Zoning Resources

Regional Strategic Plan

Final Report

Interactive Infrastructure Map

Vision West ND Plan Directors Technical Assistance

Bush Foundation

The project supports volunteer and paid plan directors in 19 western North Dakota counties to implement new county or tribal strategic plans.  The plans address challenges caused by the oil boom and for sustaining economic viability following the boom.

Bush Foundation 

Quarterly Report

Final Report

Childcare Project- Hettinger & Rolette Counties

USDA Rural Development

With funding from the USDA Rural Development awarded to the Rural Economic Area Partnership Investments (REAP) and the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Co-ops (NDAREC ), a task group calling itself the Co-op Child Care Team has been meeting regularly to figure out if, and how, cooperative models of child care might be used to address the unmet needs for child care in Hettinger (Adams county) and in Rolette counties.

Rolette County 

Hettinger County

Final Report

In accordance with Federal law and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) To file a complaint of discrimination, write to: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6381 (TDD).